Classic TV Revisited: Mr Benn

In classic children’s animation Mr Benn made regular trips to a costume shop where “as if by magic” a shopkeeper appeared and suggested an outfit to try on. Leaving the changing room through another door led Mr Benn into strange new worlds where adventure was to be had. Ray Brooks provided the voices.

Mr Benn’s Appearance?
A little bowler-hatted chap who lives a strange fantasy life.

Why was it so good?
After changing, he walked out of the “other” door into another world, appropriate to his costume, where he had an adventure.

Where did Mr Benn come from?
What he did for a living was a mystery, but we assumed he was a businessman, or maybe one of the Homepride flour graders.

But he didn’t go to work?
We only ever saw him on his way to the shop and he was always dressed nicely for the occasion, gliding down Festive Road past children playing happily.

So he always wore his suit?
Always, he was that great English gentleman who seemed to have no casual clothes.

Who else was in Mr Benn?
The shifty looking shopkeeper in the costume shop.

What did he do?
Not much, apart from mysteriously reappear at the end of Mr Benn’s adventures to usher him back to the changing room.

Mr Benn would encounter different situations in his new world behind the changing room. He helped solve problems and always brought back a little souvenir.

Why is Mr Benn still popular?
“The tales are so well crafted, each with a surprise,” says Tess Read, author of Mr Benn’s Little Book Of Life.

Such as?
The stories always had a moral. For example, in one he was a diver and met captains of a submarine trying to photograph a monster. “He has an adventure, sees lots of things and finds the creature. The moral is – enjoy life as you go along, don’t search for a single prize.”

How many episodes were made?
Surprisingly only 13, but as kids we didn’t notice that our constant diet of Mr Benn was made up of repeats.

Distinguishing features?
A bowler hat, pin-striped suit and a magical costume shop changing room.

Do say:
“As if by magic…”

Don’t say:
Mr Benn the thief. He never appeared to pay the shopkeeper and usually still has a bit of the costume with him when he gets home.

Not to be confused with:
Mr Men or the small bowler-hatted chaps from the Homepride adverts.

Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.